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Changing Lives Together: PEAK Mentors Collaborate on an Unforgettable Opportunity

This April, a pair of PEAK mentors collaborated on one very, very special outing — an opportunity to meet 2010 first round draft pick for the Portland Trail Blazers Evan Turner.

Every PEAK scholar-mentor relationship has its own magical components, be they monthly cooking nights together, weekly chats by phone, or daily tweets of support during exams. But across the board, “special outings” to sports events always score big...especially when they involve one-on-one time with a pro!

Freshmen mentors John Mitchell and Bryce Yancy are already good friends now after a year mentoring their inseparable Freshman scholars, William and Gabe. Evan Turner, 2010 first round draft pick for the Portland Trail Blazers, is a high school friend of Bryce's. But work demands kept Bryce away, so he set up the tickets and the behind-the-scenes outing, and John brought the boys to the game.

Two months later, the two scholars are still raving about their mentors’ hat trick of an outing. But hanging out at a Bulls game is just the start — Gabe's and William's relationships with their mentors go much deeper... John's strategy this year has been to focus on building a friendship with William as a foundation for the next four years. The two spend time together regularly, and they like and respect each other. When William started to struggle to keep up academically this school year after the loss of a loved one in the fall, John stepped up as a supportive friend and advocate. In the coming year, John plans to continue supporting and advocating for William while also pushing him to achieve to his true potential. Bryce said that he works to strike a balance between the role of friend and coach. He compared his role as a mentor to bumper rails at a bowling alley — letting Gabe set his own course, but making sure he doesn't stray too far off track. "It has taught me patience," said Bryce. "I think I expected that because I'm fairly young, I could just tell him about the mistakes I made in high school and have him avoid them. In reality, mentoring Gabe means constantly reminding him about what he needs to do." Bryce calls Gabe weekly, and Gabe knows to expect that the first thing they will check in about will be his grades and why they are where they are. These conversations have not only helped Gabe learn to be accountable and recognize that his actions have impacts not only on him but on other people, but also give Bryce an opportunity to get a sense of what motivates Gabe. Bryce has developed a strong bond this year not only with Gabe but also with Gabe's grandmother, who is Gabe's primary guardian. Such communication between mentors and families allows for a level of consistent support that scholars like Gabe would not otherwise receive. Bryce believes this provided the extra boost Gabe needed to start off high school on the right foot, and the results support that: Gabe's GPA improved by over 1.25 points from his first quarter to the end of the school year. Mentoring impacts lives in so many ways. At its best, it not only supports an individual's achievement, but also brings them into a community. We are so grateful to John, Bryce, and all the PEAK mentors working every day to connect our scholars with the support of this wonderful community.

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